I’ll bet you didn’t know how important nutrition can be for your child’s success at school. Proper nutrition affects so much more than just having a fully tummy and fighting hunger. That food fuels learning and positive behaviors throughout the day.
When your kids are young, their minds are still developing and their bodies are growing fast. Without proper nutrition, a child will lack the vitamins and minerals necessary to facilitate a normal growth.
I completely understand that what most people consider a “nutritious” diet. But that can be quite harmful for some of our special needs kids. Unless you know for certain that some type of food is dangerous to your child, a variety of healthy meals and snacks is super important.
For someone with gluten intolerance or nut allergies, common healthy foods can be downright dangerous. For kids like my youngest daughter, having too many carbs or too much sugar can actually put her in a coma due to her diabetes!
I’m lucky in many ways when it comes to food and my autistic daughter. She is kind of literall when it comes to learning information. So, when we told her she can’t have regular soda and candy anymore, she’s really good about not eating or drinking that. She’s still a kid, though, so she’s no where near perfect with her food choices.
Another way I feel we are lucky with her is that she eats a variety of foods and always has. She likes fruits and vegetables. All kids can be opposed to eating fruits and veggies regardless of their special needs, but I’ve met plenty of them who will only eat a few foods due to smell, texture or flavor.
Nutrition in Young Kids
So, what do you do to help your kids eat better? If they are at all flexible like my daughter, you actually do have some options for helping them out.
One way to ensure that your child eats healthy at school is to make a bag lunch for your child each day. Include healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables or a variety of nuts. Each of these snacks is high in vitamins and low in fat. They also provide your child with energy to keep their attention on school matters rather than drifting off to sleep.
If you are like my girl, she’d be happy (and safe) with some carrots and celery and some sour cream or yogurt for dipping. She also likes cheese and nuts. All those options are low carb, yet have naturally healthy fats and fiber.
Often times, drinks have hidden crap in them. Milk can have a lot of sugar, and juice boxes are extraordinarily high in sugars too. My suggestion would be to get your kids to drink water. If they won’t, then add some sugar free flavoring or natural lemon juice to it.
Keep their portions small. It’s a big issue in America to have larger portions which are unnecessary for all of us.
Can you get involved at school? Attending PTA meetings and joining other parents who petition the school for better food options can actually work. It might take a while to see the results, though.
Middle and High School Nutrition
In junior high and high school, you’ll find that your kids have more options. The school doesn’t tell them what they have to pick every day. However, this means that nutritious food choices are in your kid’s hands. If you’ve been working with your kids since they were young, they’ll gravitate toward the best options naturally.
We had genetic testing done for my daughter this year to see how she metabolizes her foods and medicines. Her doctor wanted to know which meds would work better based on what her body naturally processes.
The testing shows that she doesn’t process one part of the foods that she eats. So, she’s been put on a food supplement which has led to her being much more present and aware of herself.
How can you change your child’s diet on a daily basis to help them succeed in school and in general?